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Indians acquire pitchers Talbot, Rivera

Indians acquire pitchers Talbot, Rivera

CLEVELAND -- In selecting right-hander Mitch Talbot from the Rays as the player to be named in the Kelly Shoppach trade and signing right-hander Saul Rivera to a Minor League contract, the Indians have added two more arms and two more options to their Spring Training rotation and bullpen competitions.

Talbot, who is out of Minor League options, will come into camp to compete for a job in the rotation, while Rivera, who has logged 245 appearances with the Nationals over the past four seasons, will vie for a spot in the 'pen.

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The acquisitions of the 26-year-old Talbot and the 32-year-old Rivera were announced Monday.

Shoppach, who was dealt to the Rays on Dec. 1, was given a $1.95 million contract a year ago in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Despite his subpar 2009 season, he's due to receive a raise from the Rays in his second round. Unloading that financial burden was perhaps the biggest incentive for the Indians in making the trade.

Talbot was one of two players the Indians considered as the player to be named. As part of the deal, the Indians also had to send cash to the Rays, though the exact amount was not revealed.

"There were a number of complexities to the player to be named component," assistant general manager Chris Antonetti said. "Cash was a consideration, in the event that we went with Talbot."

The Tribe had until Sunday to select the player to be named. The other player on their list to consider was right-hander Joseph Cruz, a 21-year-old who spent all of '09 at Class A Bowling Green. Had the Indians selected Cruz, it's believed they would have had to send another player to the Rays as compensation.

Why did the Indians add Talbot, who must be added to the 40-man roster and either make the Opening Day roster or be exposed to waivers?

Simply put, they like his stuff -- particularly what Antonetti called an "above-average" changeup and cutter -- and his potential to land a job.

"He's another upper-level starting option for us," Antonetti said. "He's a guy we've had interest in for quite a while. He's logged close to 400 Triple-A innings, and we're adding him to our mix to come in and compete for a spot."

Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers (who is also out of options), David Huff, Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon will all be competing for jobs in the rotation. Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson can already be penciled in.

Talbot has spent the better part of the past three years at the Triple-A level, though elbow trouble limited him in '09.  

Originally a second-round Draft pick by the Astros in 2002, Talbot was acquired by the Rays in the July '06 trade that sent Aubrey Huff to Houston. Talbot was named the Triple-A Charlotte Pitcher of the Year in 2007 and '08. He went 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA in 28 starts in '08 and made three appearances with the Major League club in September.  

In his Minor League career, Talbot owns a 62-54 record and 3.79 ERA in 165 starts.  

Talbot made just 10 starts for Triple-A Durham this year because of a right elbow sprain. He went 4-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 10 starts, walking 18 and striking out 40. He recovered from the injury in time to make two starts in the International League playoffs, and he finished the year by making six starts in the Arizona Fall League, where he was 3-0 with a 4.37 ERA.

"We saw him pitch in the fall league," Antonetti said. "We feel his stuff is back to where it was prior to the injury."  

Baseball America listed Talbot as the Rays' 16th-best overall prospect entering '09. The publication also tabbed his changeup as the best in the International League after the '08 season.

As for Rivera, the 32-year-old owns a career Major League record of 13-15 with a 4.05 ERA in 245 appearances with the Nationals over the past four seasons. He has struck out 191 while walking 123 in 275 2/3 innings. Rivera made a career-high 85 appearances with the Nats in '07, and he went 5-6 with a 3.96 ERA in 76 games in '08, when he finished fourth in the NL in relief innings pitched (84).

Rivera, a Puerto Rico native, split '09 between Washington, where he was 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA in 30 appearances, and Triple-A Syracuse, where he was 2-5 with a 3.55 ERA in 30 games.

"Rivera is another guy with Major League experience," Antonetti said. "He's logged a lot of innings at the Major League level. He should come in and compete for a spot in the 'pen."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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